Monday, January 25, 2010

French onion soup

So this is my favorite recipe, it is from the Chopping Block:

2 tablespoons of butter
4 Medium yellow onions thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 cup sherry*
5 cups beef stock**
French bread
Gruyere Cheese

Heat your pot, when it is hot add the butter. Let it melt and then add the onions, let the onions saute for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally (Christina's note, our onions were huge so they filled the pot all the way to the top, do not worry as they cook, they reduce in size. I also added a pinch of salt at this step to heap the onions sweat)

Add the thyme, salt and pepper.

Add the sherry and use it to deglaze the bottom of your pot. Make sure you get all the yummy brown bits. Let the mixture simmer a bit until the sherry has evaporated.

Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat so to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning (Christina's note, if you are using a regular stock, you can reduce some of your salt. I also love extra thyme so I add more)

Get your oven proof bowls, cut the bread about 1/2 inches thick. Grate the cheese.

Ladle the soup into your bowls. Fill only 3/4 of the way, add the bread and then sprinkle the cheese. Set the bowls under your broiler for a couple of minutes (Christina's note watch the bowls as different ovens have different heat levels. It is a good idea to put them on a rimmed cookie sheet, because they are hot).

Remove, and add extra cheese if you wish (um yes!)

Let it cool for a moment and enjoy!

Serves about 6

*Use regular sherry not cooking sherry
**Vegetable stock can be substituted

-This is even better the next day, you can make the recipe up to adding the soup to the bowls.
-You can substitute thyme for herbs de Provence

If you make it, let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just the points

  • Rosie has had two puppy training classes and has shown a lot of confidence and is food motivated so is quick to learn. The downside, is that she is food motivated and interrupts other puppies and their owners for a treat. It has been a fun class and we've learned a lot. This week's homework is the sit (leading to stay) command and a review of the "come" command.
  • Ever since the burglary, it seems that all our neighbors are watching out for each other and for us. People have really stepped up and are checking in with each other and sharing notes. It is great to be a part of that.
  • The downside of that is some entitlement issues and passive aggressive comments that have been going back and forth. We are all adults, if you want your upstairs neighbor to turn down his TV, knock on his door and ask him!
  • spend a lot to get my car maintained, more than I planned, and we still have a few more issues to take care of. Well when you are almost at 30k miles, stuff happens.
  • Bought a new blender for $0.38, thank you gift card.
  • Making onion soup today....can we say yum.
  • Can't believe that my best friend is having a baby in 6 weeks, I am an honorary aunt and can't wait to see them in the spring!
  • My parents are going to Egypt for Spring break (they work in a college). they have been so funny about planning and researching. According to my dad, never buy alabaster in the streets, it is fake and there is one store in Cairo that sells papyrus as done my the ancient Egyptians and he may have to go check it out.
  • I am so over the late night wars!
What are your bits and bobs?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


With the news about the earthquake that devastated Haiti, there is a onslaught of generosity.

Before you donate money, make sure that it is a reputable organization. Sadly, as with most recent disasters people have been scammed and their contribution does not make it to the country in need. To check if your charity is a legitimate one please check out this website.

Check with the local offices to see if they are collecting food and clothes. The Red Cross in Chicago is requesting financial donations as it costs them time and money to sort and send clothes. Also, they like to stimulate the local economy by purchasing items there.

Check if your company is offering matching donations to maximise your donation.

Some other relief and charities organizations that are collecting are
Doctors without Boarders
Habitat for Humanity
Red Cross
Mercy Corps
Save the Children
World Food Program

Check to see what they are looking for (although most are seeking financial donations)

You can also text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the International Response Fund of the Red Cross.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Staying safe

Our neighbors were a victim of a day time home robbery over the weekend. It happened between 1-3 pm, most of the neighbors were out (including us) and did not see anything suspicious until about 3:45. They lost their laptops, a gaming system and some custom jewelry. They crate their dog so she was okay, shaken up but okay/

It got me thinking about some things that we all can do to protect our homes. The first thing it to add layers to make your home less appealing:

Here are some tips to keeping your home safe.


-Alarm system

There are so many options available that can be suited to your house/condo (make sure they are reputable, do your homework). Many are offering discounts or free options that help to mitigate the cost. Put the alarm stickers on your doors and windows, it is a major deterrent (Plus, it reduces your homeowner’s insurance)


How strong are your doors, are they reinforced with steel or just a simple hollow wood door? Can you replace them? If not, the simple thing it so add a metal plate, like a book cover, they glide over your door and then you bolt your locks and handle in, it is hard to drill to open the lock. You can also consider some drill proof locks.


-Do you keep your shades open to show the world what you own? Invest in blinds, curtains and keep your windows locked when you are not home.


Time yourself give yourself 5-15 minutes, what is in plain eye sight and can easily be taken? Try different entry points. Secure those items to make it harder.

Personal items

Serial numbers

Keep a record of your serial numbers for your computers, gaming systems, TV, DVD players etc. Keep the record on an internet based system such as Google Docs. Print and keep a copy for yourself (perhaps in a book on your bookshelf or taped to the back of some artwork that is hanging in your home)


Do you want your sentimental jewelry taken? Place those special pieces away from your everyday pieces. Keep it somewhere unusual that would take a lot of time and effort to find but not hard for you to remember.


From homeowners to renters insurance make sure you have your items covered. Be honest, look at the value of your bit ticket items and get coverage. It is a small price to pay


Invest in a strong secure one, one that is too heavy for a person to carry comfortably. Keep your passports and important papers in here but keep a copy of your passport somewhere safe, Scan it to your email. A safe deposit box at a bank is another option.


Make sure you know who you are letting into your building or home. It is okay not to let people in that you do not know even if they say they are friends of your neighbors.


Know your neighbors

You need to keep each other informed of any suspicious activity. Don’t be afraid to speak up

Know your local police officers

Invite them to your association meetings; let them know your concerns. They have tips and suggestions to keep you safe and you develop a relationship with them.


Ensure that your pets have the electronic ID system. Make sure you keep those numbers handy. Call all shelters if they go missing

Be aware,

Know your surroundings, know the people who live in your neighborhood and report anything suspicious.

What are other tips?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Gone to the dogs

Since we added Rosie to our family, we have had our hands full. She is very quick, nimble and has a stubborn streak. But she and Yukon are good friends and entertain each other for a few hours a day. She and Chaplin can share our bed during nap time.

We've been working from home for the past few days due to the snow storm and she has decided that she would rather spend all day on a lap rather then in her warm crate. She is not a fan of the cold weather and loves to wear her jacket. Her dad is looking at doggy boots since she is very sensitive to the salt.

Yukon has been such a good big sister. She tolerates having a playmate and has taken on this matronly aura. I am so proud of her.

We all start obedience school this weekend and I can't wait. We need to work on a few things but, we can't imagine our life without her.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Changes to work for

The past two weeks have been lovely! It was great staying home doing little things to make our house neater and spending time catching up on movies and playing with the pets. I got most of my list done but not all of it. I have been procrastinating on finishing up cleaning the office and my bedroom closet though.

But with 2010 brings some things that I want to start to do. I don't like to call them resolutions because I feel so bad when they fail but, rather call them changes to work for. The top of my list is to get my body in motion. I have not exercised in ages and am feeling the effects so instead of wallowing about it, I need to get moving. Back to the gym for me and perhaps start running (perhaps). I also have to watch what I eat, the holidays wrecked me so now we have to go back to eating good things. Work has a program to help you get started so I signed up to keep me motivated and accountable. I was so good early last year but, stopped. Now, I have to get back on track.

I want to stay organized. I get so freaked out sometimes by not having a neat and tidy house. So I want to work to maintain and do little things that help keep it looking good. I have already started, I organized all the cleaning products by usage, accessibility and if it is dry vs. wet. I also take at least three things that don't belong in a certain room and put them back when I leave the room I am in. Finally, I conditioned our chopping block and it looks so pretty that nothing is allowed on it. I plan to clean for a few minutes each day so that the weekend is not a cleaning marathon.

Simple changes I suppose but I hope these work to make things a bit easier for me in the long run.

what are your "changes to work for"?